TOKYO (AP) — The U.S. Marines are conducting their first test flights of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft in Japan after months of protests there over safety concerns.
The hybrid aircraft can take off like a helicopter and fly like an airplane. Flight operations were conducted Friday at a base in southern Japan where they are temporarily deployed before being transferred to Okinawa.
Following two recent crashes, tens of thousands of Okinawans have protested the deployment, saying that they are not safe to fly in Okinawa's crowded environment.
But Japan's central government gave the green light for operations to begin this week after a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who said Washington is confident in the safety of the aircraft. The planes are to head to Okinawa this month.